, Volume 7, Issue 5, pp 277-294

Management Options for Bipolar Disorder in Children and Adolescents

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During recent years there has been a dramatic increase in the use of psychotropic medication for the treatment of bipolar disorder (BPD) in children. There is an emerging set of data to support this use.

Mood stabilizers, including lithium and valproic acid (valproate sodium), have generally formed the mainstay of treatment in children and adolescents with BPD. However, the atypical antipsychotics, such as risperidone, aripiprazole, and quetiapine may be more effective as first-line treatment options and in some ways easier to use than the traditional mood stabilizers. As in adults, mood stabilization is often difficult to achieve in pediatric patients with BPD, and combined treatment with mood stabilizers and atypical antipscyhotics is commonly used.

Data from controlled trials of psychotropic medications in children and adolescents with BPD are very limited, and hence, in the majority of cases physicians base their treatment decisions on data from case reports, case series, or open trials. More controlled studies of both monotherapy and polypharmacotherapy for BPD in children and adolescents are needed.